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Air Quality at Wind Cave National Park

What’s in the Air?

Map of Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota
Wind Cave NP, South Dakota

Most visitors expect clean air and good visibility in parks. Wind Cave National Park (NP), South Dakota, a sea of prairie grasses among the southern Black Hills and home to one of the world’s longest caves, enjoys moderately good air quality due in part to the rural setting of the surrounding Northern Great Plains. However, there are some nearby and regional sources of air pollution, including oil and gas production, power plants, agriculture, and vehicles. These air pollutants can harm the park’s natural and scenic resources such as soils, surface waters, vegetation, and visibility.

How is air pollution affecting Wind Cave National Park?

  • Fine particles of air pollution sometimes cause haze in the park, affecting how well and how far visitors can see vistas and landmarks.  more »
  • Ground-level ozone concentrations are moderate to high, with a number of ozone-sensitive plant species found in the park.  more »
  • Nitrogen and sulfur from nearby oil and gas development and agriculture and more distant power plants and other sources are carried into park ecosystems and may affect sensitive resources.  more »
  • Moderately high levels of mercury were measured in precipitation at the park, posing a potential threat to food webs. more »

What is the National Park Service doing about air pollution at the park?

  • Monitoring fine particles, haze, ozone, nitrogen, and sulfur to assess status and trends in air quality. more »
  • Working with federal, state, and local agencies, industry, and public interest groups to develop strategies to reduce air pollution and protect and restore park resources. The NPS also reviews plans for development that may increase air pollution in national parks.  more »
  • Creating public awareness, using alternative energy sources and an environmentally-friendly vehicle fleet for park staff, and participating in Climate Friendly Parks to reduce air pollutant emissions in the park. more »

Featured Content

Impacts icon

Pollutants including nitrogen, sulfur, ozone, and fine particles affect resources such as soils and scenic vistas. Find out how on our Wind Cave NP Air Pollution Impacts web page.

Studies and Monitoring icon

Studies and monitoring help the NPS understand the environmental impacts of air pollution. Access air quality data and see what is happening with Studies and Monitoring at Wind Cave NP.

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Last Updated: January 26, 2015